The cashier looked stunned. Maybe she'd never seen a bank heist movie, or maybe she hadn't yet had the Computer Based Training entitled "Module Three: What to do if a bloke in a ski mask points a fake gun at you"
She didn't know it was fake of course. I wasn't using a replica as a way of reducing prison time. Any bank robber worth his salt would know that if you walked into a bank and pointed a lolly stick at the cashier and said "give me the money" you'd get the same time as if you'd used an AK-47.
Armed robbers were a breed apart, for any given value of 'armed'. It took someone fairly disconnected to make the mental leap necessary. Murder,assault, burglary etccould be committed by pussies. Revenge, lust, whatever. Armed blaggers were psychos (apart from me).
No, the fake was an urgent response to the fact that I had monumentally screwed up.
I'd sourced a proper handgun. A friend of a friend in london knew someone who knew someone else who could get me a weapon. I paid a few hundred quid and got a very battered looking Beretta 9mm. The blloke who sold it to me demonstrated it in the disused factory (using a pillow to muffle the sound).
He gave me a box of bullets (although he said the proper name was 'shells' or 'rounds'. Whatever. I called them bullets.
He showed me how to load the magazine, how to work the safety, and I figured out how to fire it all by myself.
I drove back up the M1 motorway to York, getting jittery every time I saw anything remotely resembling a police car, and decided I needed to hide it somewhere other than my flat for the next 2 days.
I chose a small piece of grass at a junction of the main road going from the motorway into York. Parked nearby at night, walked a few yards down the grass verge, dug a quick hole and stuffed the gun into it, wrapped in a plastic bag.
I'd go back the day of the heist, dig it up, drive to the venue and BAM!
The next day passed, and I finalised my escape plans, and arrangement to get the money to the guy I owed £50k to from a poker game gone bad. Well, several poker games gone bad to tell the truth.
Anyway. The day arrived, and I drove out to the same spot.
I'd only picked the spot where the local constabulary parked up to monitor traffic. They were parked 10 feet from an illegal firearm intended for use in an armed robbery.
Time for plan B. Not that I had one.